24y.o. heroine is on the run with her younger half-siblings to protect them from her influential stepfather’s abuse.
A public search is out on them, with her stepfather accusing her of kidnapping them due to her mental instability. She’s fearful and suspicious when security-specialist Hero and his family find their dilapidated hiding place and offers them help.
Hero’s protective caring and obvious attraction towards her spurs her to trust him with her family and herself.
But, when she overhears his plans to betray her, she runs away. Only to be caught by her stepfather, whom Hero and his security team are trying to ensnare. Finding her becomes his #1 mission.
Convincing her to trust him again becomes another.
Can he break through the barriers of her deep mistrust in him?
This book unfortunately went from boring to odd and eye-rollingly corny. Let’s start with the boring part. It took me 5 days to finish this book, which is pretty long for me. I was finding other things to do after reading just a few pages. I didn’t want to DNF(did not finish) it because I thought by Maya Banks and I expected it to get better later like Echoes at Dawn in its 2nd half. No such luck. The writing failed to draw my emotions. It didn’t pull me in to feel what the main characters were feeling or be invested in them. I felt an emotional distance from the main characters. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get why Hero was so drawn to heroine. I love alpha Heroes who are instantly & intensely drawn to the heroines. But this book actually made something that’s usually exciting for me predictable and off-putting. As much as I find instant love appealing and understand that sometimes there’s no logical reason why this happens, this book didn’t give me a romantic reason and feeling. Hero’s obsession with heroine felt flat. And, most of all, strange.
One logical reason I found for Hero’s intense and immediate attraction to heroine was his envy of his brothers who have found and married their great love and started their own family. He was just wishing for a wife and kids to fill his newly built house before he first met heroine. It seemed like he subconsciously shaped heroine AND her half-siblings to conform to his wishes. It didn’t feel very romantic. It’s also possible his intense attraction towards her was because it made him feel like her rescuer. He had a knight-in-shining-armor syndrome, known for championing causes for women and children in need. And heroine was definitely a damsel in distress. The attraction was also mostly one-sided for a time. Yes, heroine briefly thought he was good-looking but she was in survival mode and didn’t have the wherewithal to consider beyond danger and safety at the time. We got mostly Hero’s POV(point of view) the first few chapters and he goes from “there’s something about her” to “she’s mine & (her siblings) are mine”. It felt more creepy than romantic. There was just something abnormal about his immediate possessiveness regarding them. Maybe if there wasn’t a constant repetition from Hero and his family of how much he longed for starting his own family and if his intensifying possessiveness was 90% restricted to heroine, it wouldn’t have felt so strange. But his repeated “she’s mine, (her siblings) are mine” mantra sounded unbalanced and stalker-ish. Even heroine was taken aback with his passionate intent to save and take care of them. It had only been 3 days since they met after all. But he was already dropping heavy hints on how much he wanted all of them in his life and didn’t mind if he became her siblings’ daddy. Just weird.
In the latter half of the book, things became corny and contrived after Hero and heroine had sex.
---------------SPOILERS: Don’t read below if you don't want to know the book's details-----------
The only sex scenes in the book occurred 4 days after they met. Nothing wrong with that. Usually. But heroine was still unsure about her feelings for Hero, was still a virgin, and barely escaped and was injured from a tornado the day before. So her succumbing to his assertive attraction seemed a tad unhealthy. Not very well thought out and more like an impulsive reaction borne out of extreme stress and gratefulness that Hero would help and believe them when no one else would. Didn’t seem very romantic. She realized she loved him the morning after, which was predictable and based on how nice Hero was being to her and her siblings than it was her loving him for himself. They hadn’t spent much time getting to know each other in the 4-day span. They were both too busy taking care of heroine’s dangerous situation and surrounded by others. The occasional few minutes they had together was mostly spent with Hero asserting how much he wanted to take care of her and her siblings and making sure they were safe. I started skipping these parts because it was repeated so often and seemed overly dramatic. It was corny.
In some way, Hero’s obsessive and stalker-like approach to heroine eventually worked due to her hunger for love. She’d been pushed aside by her various parents throughout her life. She had to be independent but didn’t fight it when her stepfather took control of her life in her late teens and she became financially dependent on him. She probably would’ve let him pay for everything and dictate what she did in her life, if he didn’t kill her mother. Heroine was more like her mother but a tad bit stronger. She was a false martyr and preferred being taken care of. I rolled my eyes every time (and it was quite often) another character marveled at how strong she was. I never got the sense that she was an emotionally strong person. She appeared emotionally fragile from the very start. Her 17y.o. half-brother, on the other hand, was the emotionally strong one who kept things together for them. So, when she overheard Hero’s plan to barter her for her siblings to her stepfather, she shattered emotionally, feeling once again rejected and pushed aside for her siblings. Her great pain at his deceit and rejection made her want to leave by herself. I couldn’t believe she would leave her precious younger siblings behind with Hero, when she felt endangered by him! This confirmed how emotionally weak and insipid she was. Why would she leave her half-siblings who she’d been protecting all this time with a man whom she’s only known for 5 days and realized lied and deceived her? Why would she think such an untrustworthy stranger be someone she can safely leave her siblings with? So what if he wanted them but not her. Why would he want her half-siblings so much to begin with? Didn’t that make Hero sound like her stepfather? If Hero wanted to have kids, he could’ve easily adopted other kids from the charitable organizations he sponsored. Heroine also believed his whole family was in on her betrayal. So why leave her siblings with people she believed to be conniving and dishonest? She was on a pity party for one. So maybe she wanted Hero to feel sorry for her that she’s all alone out there in the bad, dangerous world with her stepfather? All we needed was a whining violin playing a sad tune in the background to complete her pathetic picture. Lots of eye rolling on my part. Coupled by visions of throwing this book on the wall.
I continued on with the book, hoping again that it’ll somehow turn around and get better. But, no. It got worse. When Hero found out she left because she felt betrayed by him (she overheard him planning to give her up to her stepfather because she was mentally unstable in order to keep her half-siblings with him), he needed his own whining violin when he berated himself for hurting her (even though he actually didn't because it wasn't his fault that she only overheard part of his plan and not confront him on it) and not telling her he loved her and promised to tell her everyday of his love for her. It was so overly dramatic. The rescue operation was contrived. First of all, her brother also left by himself to search for heroine . How did he do that when Hero’s compound was heavily secured with passwords and other security measures (thus, the reason why heroine held his sister at gunpoint)? Second of all, how was her 17y.o. brother able to hijack a plane? He must have some superpowers because he not only hijacked a plane immediately when he got there but he remembered his stepfather’s property address in Oregon and string of passwords he overheard his stepfather mentioned to someone a long time ago. Thirdly, the timing and locating of heroine was unbelievable. It was like a bad B-movie. With the whining violin starting up again when Hero realized her dull eyes were not just drug-induced but due to her shattered hope that he felt responsible for, where he then tearfully commenced to promise to make up for it all his life if she just woke up and forgave him. Eye roll, eye roll.
I basically skimmed the last pages of the book because it was hopelessly bad. The dramatic apologies and sappy love confession that woke heroine up from her fragile and TSTL(too stupid to live)-induced comatose-like state. Kinda like a TSTL Snow White woken up by her Prince Charming’s kiss. Then the promises to be together forever and, of course, plans to adopt her half-siblings as his own kids. Because it just wasn’t enough to call them his sibling-in-laws. They likely will have a HEA(happy ever after) with their matching knight and distressed damsel roles. And their brood of future kids.
I’d skip this book. I'd read Whispers in the Dark instead for a terrific book among Banks' KGI series.